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Harrison Isaacs, who will graduate from Thomas University on Saturday, takes a break Tuesday on the rooftop of a building in downtown Moultrie that he’s renovating.

 

Overcoming obstacles

Isaacs doesn't let wreck derail him from graduating

On a recent Tuesday morning, Harrison Isaacs busily explained his plans for the old building in downtown Moultrie. The peeling paint and cracking floor tiles didn’t hamper his enthusiasm for the structure full of history.

“This is one of my favorite places,” he explained as he led the way into a room with a glass door that once served as the entry into an attorney’s office, the name still painted on the door.

Isaacs has been hard at work this building, his second renovation project in downtown Moultrie. On Saturday he’ll temporarily take a break from the renovation work to participate in the Commencement ceremony at Thomas University where he’ll graduate Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science in Degree in Business Administration.

Last year there were many who doubted Isaacs would be where he is today. On June 8, 2016, Isaacs was involved in an automobile wreck. He doesn’t remember the accident, which he considers a blessing, but he does remember the time he spent after that recovering from his injuries at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta.

“One of the nurses said they can only help a patient 40 percent, and the other 60 percent is the patient’s motivation to get better” Isaacs said. “I put in 110 percent so that I could get back home.”

Doctors recommended that Isaacs take a year off from college.

“I have a saying, ‘Don’t accept the first option as the best and only option,’” Isaacs said.

The son of DeAnna and Gregg Isaacs of Moultrie, he graduated from Colquitt County High School in 2013 and then enrolled at Thomas University.

Before the accident Isaacs had registered for all online classes for the fall 2016 semester so that he’d have more time to work on renovating a building that his family had purchased. Despite having to recover from his injuries, Isaacs finished his last semester of classes as planned last fall. He’ll participate in TU’s annual Commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 6.

“While it took me a lot more time than it used to, I was still able to complete the task with a 4.0 GPA,” he said. “I didn’t want to look back on life in the years to come and have that asterisk by my graduation date because I wasn’t able to graduate a semester early as planned because of the wreck. Every time a task is put in front of me, I put my full effort in doing the best that I can do.”

Isaacs’ professors witnessed his determination first hand.

“Harrison has been a dedicated and conscientious student, qualities that he kept and depended upon as he was also recovering from his accident,” said Mina Haretos, Instructor of Business at TU. “As one of his professors, I was fortunate to have him in class and to see his creativity and business savvy. He has the ability and perseverance to achieve great things.”

Isaacs originally chose Thomas University because of its location and online classes.

“In real estate it’s all about location, location, location,” he said. “It was the same way for me with TU. Going to TU allowed me to stay at home and get a head start in business as well as stay close to my family.”

That head start in business included renovating a building his family purchased in downtown Moultrie.

“I’ve always had an interest in real estate development,” Isaacs said. “With the first building, I handled the negotiations and did a lot of the work myself.

Once Isaacs finished the first building, he realized how much he enjoyed the work. That’s when Isaacs moved on to renovating his current building.

He’s found the coursework at TU helped prepare him for this line of work.

“Accounting has especially helped,” Isaacs said. “I could balance a checkbook before, but learning how to do it the right way really made a difference.”

For other students who may face obstacles in the path to a college degree, Isaacs offers some advice.

“Don’t accept the first option as the best and only option,” he said. “Find something that motivates you. For me, hearing ‘you can’t do that’ is my most powerful motivation.”

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